Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Vietnamese-American and His (Or Her) Toyota: A Story of L-U-V Gone Wrong (Very Wrong)

On Monday the Houston Chronicle's Mary Flood reported on the media-abetted* client-recruitment efforts of Houston plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier, who, like many members of the legal profession, is damn near salivating over the big payday he sees up around the bend in the accelerator problems afflicting Toyota products. "This is a mass tort," proclaimed Lanier, with dollar signs almost literally spinning in his eyeballs. "Toyota is in for billions of dollars and a number of years."

Lanier's non-corporeal presence has always left an oleaginous smudge, at least in our eyes, similar to the one we always detected after viewings of the now-disgraced boy evangelist, that phony hambone populist with the $400 haircut who once actually made us feel sympathetic toward Dick Cheney.** The nature of the Lanier enterprise was summed up, perhaps unconsciously but most likely not, by the Chronicle scribe's use of such skepticism-tinged phraseology as "called a press conference largely to mark his legal turf" (like a peein' hound dog--get it?) and "lawyers in Texas and around the country have smelled Toyota's corporate blood in the water and mustered" (like certain sea creatures whose teeth are pearly white--check it out!).

Although we are a founding member of the Weekley YMCA in southwest Houston, our purpose here today is not to prattle on about product liability, mass torts, smilin' plaintiffs' lawyers with expensive hair-dos, negligent corporate entities or the whole host of phenomena that surely will attend the upcoming legal disemboweling of the Toyota Corp. (which can only be good for the American auto industry, right?). No, what caught our eye in Flood's story was the following:
Lanier, a nationally known plaintiff's lawyer, stood on the courthouse steps with lawyer Tammy Tran, who supplied 300 possible cases from the local Vietnamese community.

Though they had boxes of files and Lainer's firm is one of those with priority advertising on Google, Lanier and Tran have filed only one lawsuit against Toyota so far over unspecified injuries by an undergraduate student whose Camry hit a parked car.
Three hundred possible cases from the local Vietnamese community? Dang, we're thinking, does every Vietnamese in Houston drive a Toyota (with or without a malfunctioning accelerator )? Well, apparently so,*** at least according to this report by Fox 26's Isiah Carey, who relates that the afore-mentioned Tran told him:
"When Vietnamese come to America there's three things they want: No. 1, a good job; No. 2, a house, and No. 3, a Toyota ... and they're very disappointed in the automaker."
Ms. Tran added:
"Each Vietnamese family owns two Toyota [sic]. Toyota is the dream of every Vietnamese."
(Carey reported that the driver of the afore-mentioned Camry is "in medical school" and was "seriously injured" and that her family is "the first of at least 300 Vietnamese families in Houston to file a lawsuit against Toyota, claiming acceleration problems." As a news consumer you sorta wish the media could get their story lines straight.)

It's stories like these that make us think back, fondly, on our late father, the obstinate son of an immigrant who after World War II resolutely refused to buy any product––car, radio, lawn mower, etc.––made in either Germany or Japan,*** not only because he had spent four or five months in continental Europe getting his ass shot at by Nazis on a semi-regular basis but also because so many of his college classmates (A&M, '41) fell and never got up at the hands of Hitler's and Tojo's minions, apparently to ensure that future generations of Vietnamese-Americans could fulfill their American dream by stocking up on Japanese-made automobiles. (You're in America now, so buy American, por favor.)

By the way, we noticed on her Web site that the afore-mentioned lawyer Tran is, like her litigation lord and overseer Lanier, a big-time Bible thumper ("Leading with Faith, Winning with Experience"). When we lay us down to sleep this evening we will ask our Lord Jesus to please shield us, not only from defective accelerators in Japanese-made automobiles but from smug, sanctimonious Bible thumpers, and Koran thumpers, too––especially smug, sanctimonious Bible thumpers, or Koran thumpers, with Bar cards.

*But as Tony Soprano often shrugged, "What are ya gonna do?"
**By the way, did you see that the National Enquirer is being considered for a Pulitzer for its eviscerating of the boy evangelist? Yeah--and it deserves the prize as a frontal rebuke to the prissy Mainstream News and Infotainment Media (M-NIM).
***Come to think of it, though, we know at least a few Vietnamese who do not drive Toyotas but instead chug around town in Hondas––perhaps we just know the wrong sort of Vietnamese.
****We, of course, are made of flimsier stuff and once owned a Volkswagen, although we have since stuck with American-made vehicles.

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